improv comedy with an audience member

Philly Improv Theater News

April 2, 2015

If you've never had the chance to see Matt&, you're really missing out. Matt Holmes is a instructor at PHIT and has been improvising in Philly pretty much as long as there has been improv in Philly.

His amazing show is a duo between himself, and someone who has never done improv before. What you get to see is someone who is able to take a regular, normal person, and make them look like an improv superstar through sheer scenework and support. We asked Matt a few questions about his show and how it all got started.

PHIT: For those who don't know, what is your improv training and experience?

Matt Holmes: Like a lot of improvisers, I got a taste of short-form games in college and then stepped into the world of long form, montages, Harold, etc. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time evaluating the ins and outs of improv with my group, Rare Bird Show.

My training is more like a self-made improviser than any particular curriculum; I never did the levels at Second City or UCB or anywhere. I pre-date taking classes at PHIT.

We were able to get some expertise from UCB Theatre people coming down to our area and then to hit a lot of festivals around the country, workshopping with a wide range of top-tier improvisers. Since then, I've been doing a lot of individualized study. I've been performing, teaching, and directing improv since '98 and have performed in like nine states and Canada.

PHIT: How did the concept for Matt& start?

MH: The idea just kind of hit me, and I thought it'd be cool. I liked how it felt like a short-form approach to longform, interactive.

The first few times really surprised me how well it went. It just kind of clicked into place and fit me. Since then, I've advised five or six people who wanted to try similar shows.

PHIT: What makes a good Matt& partner? How do you choose them?

MH: I always start by asking if anybody's seeing improv for the first time. I usually get somebody that way, trying something different or brought by a friend who is more familiar with improv.

It's funny; people who don't know improv think that there's always a lot of audience participation, but my show is the rare time when that'll happen.

Short answer: anybody.

PHIT: What have been some of your favorite moments from the show?

MH: I like when my partner opens up, starts playing more actively, or feels comfortable enough to share what comes to mind.

I like when we stumble onto something really interesting, surprising, complex, emotional-those moments that you'd like in any improv show-but then I remember that it's an audience member improvising.

Don't miss Matt&, this Sunday at 7:00 pm, at the Philly Improv Theater.